Peter Sanger

Peter Sanger is a poet and essayist, widely known for his critical writings on poets John Thompson, Douglas Lochhead, and Richard Outram. His recent books include Lightfield: The Photography of Thaddeus Holownia and Odysseus Asleep: Uncollected Sequences, 1994–2019. He lives in Truro, NS.

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Aiken Drum
Peter Sanger

2006 / Poetry / $19.95
9781554470143 / Trade paper / 144 pp

In his sixth collection of poetry, Peter Sanger brings his archaeologist’s eye, along with classical and local iconography, to his encounters with domestic implements, local ecology, cultural relics and landmarks. The poems in this collection achieve a delicate balance between the grounded and the ethereal, such that the poet’s studies set down in words without losing any of the transient nature of seeing and of understanding.

Alighting on plants, tools, vessels, instruments and jewellery, Sanger’s engagement with each is infused with imagination and a sharp association with an interior catalogue of imagery that spans classical mythology, Shakespeare, and a personalized spectrum of more contemporary influences, including poets Elizabeth Bishop and Richard Outram, and photographer Thaddeus Holownia.

The poems in this collection share a stunning precision, and demonstrate a simultaneous thrift and exuberance of language and rhythm. Music comes from surprising places, adding a quality of purity and resolve in some places, achieving the liturgical lilt of nursery rhyme in others.

Aiken Drum features a long poem on the nebulous existence of William Newman—alias: Moon—a con artist who got by on what others assumed about him as he roamed New England and the Maritimes in the early nineteenth century. Here Sanger tugs at the edges of a more recent myth, revealing some of the essence of mythology itself. As the voices of poet, speaker and subject coalesce, readers are compelled to question just what we make of individuality and what we deem truth. Circling around the verity of the person and the presentation of that verity in literature, Sanger extends into poetry the bibliographic sleuthing that has defined his recent prose work.

“The tutelary spirit in Aiken Drum is an archetypal, mercurial shape-shifter whose name gives the collection its title,” says Sanger. “Originally, the character Aiken Drum appears in an old Scottish nursery rhyme of uncertain origin. Here, he also appears in the shape of the infamous ‘mysterious stranger’ who called himself during a career of thievery and fantastical escapades Smith or More or Newman or—Henry Moon. His story is told in the poem sequence ‘Abatos,’ but his presence, in various forms (including at one point, the philosopher Wittgenstein), infiltrates many poems throughout the collection. Like many books of poetry, Aiken Drum’s geography is both purgatorial and paradisal. Which is which, and when, are matters for the man in the moon and Aiken Drum.”

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There is also a special edition of the book: 9781554470150

Other Books by this Author

Sea Run: Notes on John Thompson’s Stilt Jack
Peter Sanger

2023 / Literary Criticism Canadian Poetry / $28.95 CAN
9781554472581 / Trade paper / 144 pp
Biorachan Road
Peter Sanger

2022 / Essay / $150.00 CAN
Fine / 22 pp
Odysseus Asleep: Uncollected Sequences, 1994-2019
Peter Sanger

2019 / Canadian Poetry / $21.95 CAN
9781554472048 / Trade paper / 128 pp
Lightfield: The Photography of Thaddeus Holownia
Peter Sanger

2018 / Photography, Essays, Canadian Art / $24.95 CAN
9781554471775 / Trade paper / 112 pp
Of Things Unknown: Critical Essays, 1978–2005
Peter Sanger

2015 / Literary Criticism / $34.95 CAN
9781554471508 / Trade paper / 368 pp
Peter Sanger

2014 / Essay / $9.95 CAN
9781554471256 / Pamphlet / 16 pp
Fireship: Early Poems, 1965–1991
Peter Sanger

2013 / Poetry / $25.95 CAN
9781554471218 / Trade paper / 192 pp
John Stokes’ Horse
Peter Sanger

2012 / Poetry / $21.95 CAN
9781554471133 / Trade paper / 128 pp
Through Darkling Air: The Poetry of Richard Outram
Peter Sanger

2010 / Biography / $65.95 CAN
9781554470617 / Hardcover / 512 pp
The Stone Canoe: Two Lost Mi’kmaq Texts
Peter Sanger, Elizabeth Paul, Alan Syliboy

2007 / Literary Criticism / $29.95 CAN
9781554470433 / Trade paper / 192 pp
Aiken Drum
Peter Sanger

2006 / Poetry / $49.95 CAN
9781554470150 / Fine / 144 pp
White Salt Mountain: Words in Time
Peter Sanger

2005 / Books & reading / $59.95 CAN
9781554470037 / Fine / 240 pp
White Salt Mountain: Words in Time
Peter Sanger

2005 / Books & reading / $27.95 CAN
9781554470044 / Trade paper / 240 pp
Spar: Words in Place
Peter Sanger

2002 / Books & reading / $21.95 CAN
9781894031547 / Trade paper / 112 pp
Spar: Words in Place
Peter Sanger

2002 / Books & reading / $49.95 CAN
9781894031554 / Fine / 112 pp
Divisions of the Heart: Elizabeth Bishop and the Art of Memory and Place
Sandra Barry, Peter Sanger, Gwendolyn Davies

2001 / Essays / $32.95 CAN
9781894031318 / Trade paper / 336 pp
Peter Sanger

2001 / Poetry / $4.95 CAN
9781894031530 / Pamphlet / 24 pp

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